Hoping to cut a heftier slice of the “green” funding pie and connect Orange County's far-flung clean-tech network, officials are banding with local companies and groups to launch a clean-tech trade association for the area.
Inspired by cousins such as Clean Tech Los Angeles and CleanTECH San Diego, CleanTech OC is long overdue in a county with as many as 300 green technology companies, organizers said. Orange County has long been a marginalized player in the clean-tech arena, overshadowed by activity in the Bay Area and other, more vocal pockets around the country.
Along with Mayor Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana and Brandman University, the effort to form the group was spearheaded by the Irvine office of international law firm Bryan Cave, which is headquartered in St. Louis.
CleanTech OC will officially launch after an inaugural board meeting at Bryan Cave's Irvine office Wednesday.
Mike Levin, an associate with the firm, will serve as executive director of the trade group, which will be housed on Brandman's Irvine campus. The board of directors will include Pulido and the mayors of Anaheim, Irvine and Huntington Beach, as well as representatives from utilities and investment banks.
Members will come from four clean-tech segments, organizers said. The alternative fuel vehicles sector features electric, natural gas and hybrid cars, while the renewable energy generation field includes biofuels and wind and solar power. The resource conservation slice involves recycling efforts and smart meters, and the combined green buildings and green chemistry segment covers eco-friendly construction and manufacturing processes.
The group plans to offer up-to-date information on government regulations and green-job creation while serving as a mediator and matchmaker among members.
And when funding opportunities roll around, organizers said they hope Orange County is less overlooked.
Well-known names such as Anaheim Public Utilities, Blue Fire Ethanol and Fisker Automotive tend to do well attracting backers, they said, but smaller start-up companies in the area often struggle with labyrinthine grant applications and skeptical investors.
According to the group, the county has received $561 million, or $186 for each individual, in total Recovery Act funding, excluding loan guarantees. San Diego County has pulled in $987 million, or $329 per head. Orange County also lags the California-wide county average of $578 per capita and the national average of $621 per person, the organization said.
Earlier this month, when the California Energy Commission announced $110 million in grants through its Energy Efficiency Program, none of the recipients were in Orange County.
-- Tiffany Hsu
Photo: Brandman University in Irvine. Credit: CleanTech OC.